Light as Art: Corners, Barriers and Corridors by Dan Flavin
2nd Feb 2016
As far as immersive design goes, Dan Flavin was way ahead of his time. Drenching the spaces they inhabit in vivid rainbow hues, Flavin’s minimalist, geometric light constructions still look current - no mean feat considering his earliest works are now over 50 years old.
The exhibition was on October 24 at the David Zwirner Gallery, Corners, Barriers and Corridors, is a showcase of rarely-seen pieces produced by the late and great American artist during the late sixties and early seventies. Having begun working with fluorescent light fixtures in 1963, Flavin spent these years developing his sculptures into large-scale room-size works (in 1968, he outlined an entire gallery in Germany in ultraviolet light).
Indeed, the exhibition itself picks up where Flavin’s 1973 Corners, Barriers and Corridors show at the Saint Louis Art Museum left off. It was focused on these three formats that were at the core of his practice, the exhibition explored how Flavin was able to change our perception of space through his light and color installations, or “situations,” as he preferred to call them.
Infiltrating every last inch of white space at the Chelsea gallery, the exhibition included Flavin’s two-part, untitled (to Sonja), 1969, in yellow and green. Composed of rectangular units of colored fluorescent tubes that form two interior barriers, the work was shown for the first time since its debut at the group exhibition Spaces at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1969-70.
A beguiling grid of fluorescent light - untitled (to Barry, Mike, Chuck and Leonard) 1972-75 - that divides a corridor in two - one half yellow and one-half pink - draws you in while obstructing your path, while another grid of lights fills an empty room with an intriguing white fluorescent glow but blocks you from investigating. Called untitled (to Dorothy and Roy Lichtenstein on not seeing anyone in the room), 1968, the piece was first shown at the Dwan Gallery, New York, in 1968 and has not been exhibited since 1970.
In terms of corner installations, a sequence of four related constructions - untitled (to Barnett Newman) one-four, 1971 - were on show for the first time since Flavin’s 1971 solo exhibition at the Dwan Gallery, New York, as it was a cluter of glowing, wall-mounted discs that were crammed into a triangle shape in the corner of the room. The work was an example of Flavin’s lesser-known, circular light fixtures - untitled (to a man, George McGovern) 2 - from 1972.
The exhibition was on October 24 at David Zwirner Gallery. Read more about designer lighting.